Washington Juvenile Crime Attorney
When faced with the distressing situation of having one of your children arrested for a crime, the experience can be profoundly unsettling. Feelings of anger, embarrassment, shock, and even depression may overwhelm you. In the midst of this turmoil, the uncertainty of what to do next only adds to your worries. This is where the invaluable assistance of an experienced Washington PA criminal attorney becomes crucial.
Juvenile crimes, also known as “juvenile delinquency,” involve offenses committed by individuals below the age of 18, commonly referred to as minors. If similar offenses are committed by adults, they are regarded as criminal acts.
Adult Court Versus Juvenile Court
Adult court and juvenile court differ significantly in how they handle cases in Pennsylvania. Juvenile courts operate independently from adult courts and have distinct objectives. While adult courts focus primarily on punishment for offenders, the primary aim of juvenile courts is to rehabilitate the youth who pass through their systems.
The reason behind this approach is to offer young individuals the opportunity to develop into productive, law-abiding citizens. Recognizing that young people have extensive lives ahead of them, the juvenile court system strives to help them navigate their future safely and successfully.
One notable difference between adult courts and juvenile courts is the language employed. In adult court, individuals are found guilty of “crimes,” whereas in juvenile court, these offenses are referred to as “juvenile acts,” except in cases involving severe violence. What is known as a “trial” in adult court is referred to as an “adjudication hearing” in juvenile court. When it comes to this important hearing, it is advisable to engage the services of a skilled Washington PA criminal lawyer in Washington to represent your child’s interests.
Due to the perception of minors as children, they receive more protections within the legal system than adults do. One way in which minors are safeguarded is through the sealing of their juvenile court records, ensuring that they remain inaccessible to entities outside of the juvenile system. Additionally, juvenile courts refrain from sentencing minors to time in adult jails, further shielding them from undue harm.
While minors benefit from these protective measures, they do not possess all the same rights as adults within the legal realm. For instance, minors are not entitled to a jury trial and have no right to have bond set for them.
The Juvenile Justice System
When a juvenile is arrested, they enter the Juvenile Justice System. Unlike adults, they are not immediately kept in jail, unless they pose a flight risk, endanger the public, or lack a guardian or parent to take custody of them.
Juvenile crimes, known as “delinquent acts,” are filed similarly to adult charges. After being arrested, the minor undergoes a preliminary hearing within 72 hours to determine their release. If evidence supports their detainment, their case proceeds to a formal adjudication hearing, akin to a criminal trial for adults.
Although this hearing lacks a jury, the minor can have a Washington PA criminal attorney to represent them, alongside the district attorney and judge. In severe cases, such as violent crimes or summary offenses, the minor can be tried in a regular adult court.
At the adjudication hearing, the minor is not found guilty or not guilty. The focus is on determining whether they committed juvenile acts or not. If found responsible, the judge can choose from various “disposition orders” to sentence the juvenile.
Probation is a common outcome, but there is also the possibility of placement in a juvenile detention facility or child welfare facility. Additionally, minors may need to pay restitution to crime victims, reimbursing them for property damage or personal injury. Furthermore, they might be required to pay fees or fines to the court and/or community.
The Juvenile Justice System aims to provide appropriate consequences and rehabilitation for young offenders, ensuring a path towards a better future.
Free ConsultationYou will never find us short of knowledge & commitment
while handling your case.